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Showing posts from August, 2013

Dumb Is Dangerous

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From a piece in HuffPo:
It's remarkable how low America places in healthcare efficiency: among the 48 countries included in the Bloomberg study, the U.S. ranks 46th, outpacing just Serbia and Brazil. Once that sinks in, try this one on for size: the U.S. ranks worse than China, Algeria, and Iran.

But the sheer numbers are really what's humbling about this list: the U.S. ranks second in healthcare cost per capita ($8,608), only to be outspent by Switzerland ($9,121) -- which, for the record, boasts a top-10 healthcare system in terms of efficiency. Furthermore, the U.S. is tops in terms of healthcare cost relative to GDP, with 17.2 percent of the country's wealth spent on medical care for every American.

In other words, the world's richest country spends more of its money on healthcare while getting less than almost every other nation in return.

Keep Pluggin' Away

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Bill Watterson retired from writing and drawing "Calvin & Hobbes" about 18 years ago, but the timelessness of his message -- to always remain thoughtful, imaginative, and playful -- will stick in our culture forever, if we're lucky. Case in point: Cartoonist Gavin Aung Than, who pens comics on his blog Zen Pencils,created this tribute to Watterson that has struck a chord with the Internet over the last few days.Than took the text from a commencement speech Watterson delivered at Kenyon College in 1995, and illustrated it in the style of "Calvin & Hobbes." He explains that this is the first time he's intentionally attempted to mimic Watterson, although the man has been an inspiration for his art as well as his career.
If you want to buy a print of Than's cartoon, you may be out of luck. He explains that since Watterson famously refuses to license his work, preferring to let his art speak for itself, selling this "would be against the whole sp…

New Findings

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Like we didn't know this already?  I guess it doesn't hurt to look for a little confirmation and reaffirmation now and then.
In an earlier study, published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Piff and four researchers from the University of Toronto conducted a series of experiments which found that “upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals.” This included being more likely to “display unethical decision-making,” steal, lie during a negotiation and cheat in order to win a contest.
In one telling experiment, the researchers observed a busy intersection, and found that drivers of luxury cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and less likely to stop for pedestrians crossing the street than those behind the wheels of more modest vehicles. “In our crosswalk study, none of the cars in the beater-car category drove through the crosswalk,” Piff told The New York Times. “But you see this huge boost in a driver’s …

Today's Religious Blather

The headline says it all - most of it anyway:
‘Miracle’ Fresno Tree ‘Weeping Tears of God’ Is Really Just Dripping Bug Poop Read the story at Moral Low Ground.


Behold - the power of self-delusion and the miracle of deliberate ignorance:


Here We Go Again

From The Guardian:
In a sign that Obama believes he has the legal authority, independently of Congress, to launch a strike, Carney said that allowing the chemical weapons attack to go unanswered would be a "threat to the United States". It's not at all clear what we're fixin' to do, but when the White House intones a certain combination of magic words (eg: "threat to the US"), then it's pretty clear we're fixin' to do somethin'.  And never mind that some asshole Syrian colonel used poison gas to settle an old score (what? it's as likely as anything else we've heard).  The point is that it poses practically no serious "threat to the US".

(boiler plate): It's never about what they tell us it's about, so we have to assume we don't know what Obama knows.

Let's hope Obama knows a shitload more than I do; and that what he knows includes the very real probability that Assad might have something Russian or Chine…

Today's Pix

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Today's Wonderment

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So, tell me again - why is everybody always so down on The Media?


Outrage and shock and dismay, oh my! It was all over Facebook the last coupla days too.

C'mon - really?  With all the really weird and horrible shit going on in the world, Miley Cyrus is what we need to worry about?

And when I stop to think about it for a moment, maybe the people who're throwing their little hissy fits might wanna thank her for letting them retreat back into the fantasy of believing an exhibitionist teenager is at the root of all our troubles.

Today's Quote

God love Charlie Pierce, especially for having sense enough to love Little Jemmy Madison:
Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both. No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war,…

A Brief Moment Of Enlightenment

Libertarians (for lack of a better label) are opposed to ObamaCare because taken to the logical extreme - which is where an awful lot of 'em seem to be located now - they have to be opposed to any and all efforts to suck them into any and all kinds of Collaborative/Cooperative/Collective endeavor.

It's not that they object to ObamaCare per se - they have to object to the very notion of Insurance itself.  The idea of getting together with a bunch of people you don't know and can't trust is off-putting enough, but being forced to pool your resources with these unwashed, unwelcome, undeserving miscreants?  Child, please.

Insurance is the Communism of Capitalism, and it must be avoided by all self-respecting Rugged Individuals.

Pay What You Owe

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So here we go again.  We're still in a position of having to borrow money from ourselves to pay the bills, and we'll have to raise the debt limit (again) in the next coupla months, and of course that means the Repubs are making noise (again) about "getting some concessions" from the president in exchange for their support.

OK - as if we weren't all just sick o' this shit - here it is (again):  The House of Representatives decides how much money we're going to spend on what things.  It's right there in Article 1 of the US Constitution - look it up.  The Prez and the Senate and your dead Aunt Tilley can submit budget requests until Michele Bachmann grows a brain, but nobody spends one brass farthing if John Boehner and his merry band of Sludge Divers don't agree to it ahead of time.

So Boehner says it's OK to spend the money; Obama spends the money; and then Boehner says whoa, you spent too much money - we'll have to punish you for spending…

Our Glorious Empire

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If this pic doesn't enbiggen very well for you, go to Federacion de Asociaciones Cannibicus for a better look.


Today's Best Blog Line - #2

"Ignorance Arbitrage"

Here's the whole post from No More Mister Nice Blog:


Tuesday, August 27, 2013EVEN THE TRIVIAL TALKING POINTS FROM THE RIGHT ARE DISHONEST

I saw that Newsmax was pushing this ridiculous story and wasn't sure it was worth a post, but now I see it's a front-page story at Fox Nation, so here's the ridiculousness:
'Butler' Box Office Sales Plummet by One-Third

The movie "Lee Daniels' The Butler" saw its weekend box office receipts plummet by nearly a third, from $24.6 million in its opening week to $17 million last week, after a storm of protests from Republican and veterans groups.

The film depicts a White House butler who served eight presidents, and has come under fire for its portrayal of former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy as being racially insensitive and for casting Jane Fonda as the first lady.

Supporters of President Reagan and veterans groups especially have criticized the film, with some calling for b…

Today's Best Blog Line

Actually it's more like the naming of a concept - something I've been trying to find for a very long time now:
Compulsory patriotism does nothing for soldiers who risk their lives -- but props up those who profit from war So simple - like the Jitterbug - it plumb evaded me.

From a piece in Salon by an English professor at Virginia Tech:
In addition to donating change to the troops, we are repeatedly impelled to “support our troops” or to “thank our troops.” God constantly blesses them. Politicians exalt them. We are warned, “If you can’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.” One wonders if our troops are the ass-kicking force of P.R. lore or an agglomeration of oversensitive duds and beggars.Such troop worship is trite and tiresome, but that’s not its primary danger. A nation that continuously publicizes appeals to “support our troops” is explicitly asking its citizens not to think. It is the ideal slogan for suppressing the practice of democracy, prese…

Today's Freedom From Religion

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This is Eddie Castillo - a student at Texas Tech:


Eddie is fighting the good fight.  The Texas DMV allowed him to wear his pasta strainer for his driver's license picture.

From Raw Story:
A Texas Tech student said that he was celebrating religious freedom for atheists when he fought to wear a pasta strainer on his head in his official driver’s license photo.
KCDB reported on Saturday that Eddie Castillo spent four months researching and contacting government officials before he got approval to wear the pasta strainer, which he claims is religious garb worn to “worship” the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Castillo is part of a group of “pastafarians,” a name coined by atheists protesting the Kansas School Board’s decision to teach intelligent design in 2005.
“You might think this is some sort of a gag or prank by a college student, but thousands, including myself, see it as a political and religious milestone for all atheists everywhere,” Castillo told KCDB.

Way to go, Eddie.

College Then And Now

How do I get into a decent school?
1983: Pay enough attention in high school to graduate with a 2.5 GPA, then fill out 3 forms and mail them to a college somewhere that sounds like an OK place, and where a few of your friends plan on going.
2013: Graduate HS early with a 4.8 GPA, be fluent in 3 languages, write the greatest Entrance Essay anybody ever read explaining how easy it was for you to find a cure for cancer in your spare time after church.

How do I pay for college?
1983: Work a construction job in the summer after HS, and then bus tables for a few hours a week during the school year when you need cash for beer and pot.
2013: You know you don't need both of those kidneys, right?

Once I get my degree, what can I do with it?
1983: Find a good job in your chosen field (or in almost anything, really) and begin building a rewarding life for yourself.
2013: Hang onto that diploma - you'll be short on toilet paper soon enough.

Out There Amongst Them

So here I am at the Dunkin' Donuts on US29 north of town - for reasons I don't need to explain - and there's this old guy at the counter feeling a bit chatty, complaining about all the bums and freeloaders he's encountered lately.  He tells of the panhandler he talked with not long ago, who claimed to be making $300 or $400 a day, and how he has a late model Mercedes, and one of his panhandler buddies just bought a nice new RV.  I successfully resisted asking him if he's in the habit of striking up conversations with people he has so little respect for when they accost him on the street and ask him for a handout.  I'm always a bit curious how you can get such a wealth of information from someone you think is a total bum.  Unless of course one of you is a liar.

The kid doing the cooking chimed in with his story of a "homeless guy" he met who told him about getting a boatload of hotel vouchers - at $60 a pop - and how he stays at the Hilton four nights…

So, Here's A Question

What if Antoinette Tuff had been laid off?



If the school district in Decatur had come up a little short this year (because of a thoroughly bizarre problem we have of not being able to figure out that we have to pay for stuff), then there's a real probability that this one turns out just a bit different.

PS) Ms Tuff can "give it all" to her god if that's what she feels the need to do - for myself and (I'm bettin') for the 870 kids in that school, and the thousands of their family members, we're just pretty grateful for Antoinette Tuff.

A Special Message

For all of our friends out there who're still hung up on the conventional wisdom - stuck in the rut of False Equivalence  - still convinced that "both sides do it" - "they're all the same".  These are otherwise good people.  And no matter how fucked up the Repubs get, they're just always going to say, "Yeah, but the Democrats..."

This is for them - because we love them:

Fuck - Really?

What DumFux News went with on the morning show:




What actually happened:



So it's a little weird - for some months, DumFux News has insisted on running with a kinda-sorta slant that seems to be aimed at bringing the wingnuts back from the abyss, but then they spike their morning show with the standard crap they've been wallowing in for 12 or 15 years.  It's a puzzlement.

Haiku You

Red State haiku from Addicting Info:

Vanilla is great
Other flavors are scary
Finish the damn fence!


Protect the fetus
Abortion is pure evil
SNAP for kids? No way!


Welfare is just wrong
THOSE people are robbing us
OK if you’re white


Filibuster gone?
How will we stop Obama?
Obstruction is hard!


Election results:
GOP loses badly
ACORN stole the vote


We are patriots!
Liberals hate our freedom!
Take away their rights!


All life is precious
Jesus said. Next week we cheer
Lethal injection


The United States
Turning brown is just not fair
Voter suppression


Welfare queens lazy
CEOs work really hard
On better golf score


We are in danger
Obama ignores terror
Bush never did that


Wall Street’s not that bad
Corporations are people
Need more tax cuts please


Regulation’s wrong
Corporations don’t break laws
Here, have some lead paint


Delicious and fresh
Waterways don’t need new rules
Dump some toxic waste


Economy bad
Obama must be to blame
George Bush? Who is that?


Abomination
Gays offend all good Chr…

The Real America

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive
Are the people in Vicco just some weird anomaly, or is it that the wingnuts have been lying to us about who the folks in some of these small towns really are?

What Does (The) GOP Stand For, Anyway?

Grizzled Old Pettifoggers

Glorified Obstructionist Party

Gloppy Orifice Predilection

Guarantors Of Putrefaction

Greasy Obsequious Pricks

Grunting Obfuscation Pukers

Anybody got some more?

Today's Pix

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The Theater

I love it and it makes me nauseous; and I can't think of anything more repulsively silly than most show tunes, but I remember way too many of them; and I still can't figure out why I know so much about all this shit - and all of that goes on inside my head all at the same time.  Sometimes I hate my brain.

Hurts So Good

Have Some Coffee

Zappa

"Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid." --Frank Zappa

How it starts:



And before too long:

"Scrutinizer Postlude"

[Central Scrutinizer:]
This is the CENTRAL SCRUTINIZER... again.
Hi!...It's me again, the CENTRAL SCRUTINIZER... Joe says Lucille has messed his mind up,
but, was it the girl or was it the music?  As you can see...girls, music, disease, heartbreak...they all go together.
Joe found out the hard way, but his troubles were just beginning.
His mind was so messed up... he could hardly do nothin'.
He was in a quandary...being devoured by the swirling cesspool of his own steaming desires. The guy was a wreck. So...what does he do?  For once, he does something SMART. He goes out and pays a lot of money to L. Ron Hoover... at the First Church of Appliantology.

Eventually it was discovered
That God
Did not want us to be
All the same
This was
BAD NEWS
For the Governments of T…

A Blind Hog

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Even a blind hog roots up an acorn once in a while.

With that in mind, let's check in with the late great WaPo, where it doesn't matter what's true or what's good or what's right (this is the age of "New Media" y'know - all that matters is delivering readers to advertisers).  But I'll pat 'em on the back on that rarest of occasions when they manage to break through the deafening clutter (that they're helping to create) with something that isn't just their usual Red Team / Blue Team bullshit:
For prosecutors, the key question is whether there was a clearly articulated “quid pro quo.” If so, the gifts were bribes. If not, they were gifts. To me, as an anthropologist, this largely misses the point.
Across the massive cornucopia of human culture, anthropologists have found relatively few universals. One of the strongest of these, however, concerns gift-giving. Gifts are given in all cultures, and to remarkably similar effect. As every grad…

Egyptian Quickie

I don't know what Obama's supposed to do about Egypt - I don't know that any of it is up to anybody but the Egyptians.

What we all do know is that whatever Obama does, the Repubs are gonna shit on him for it, so he might as well take his best shot no matter how it plays in Punditsville or Kibitzburg or Blogistan.

So it comes down to this:  we have to look after our own, and in the Middle East, "our own" = Israel.  Without Egypt's willing support, the Arab-Israeli Peace Deal goes straight into the shitter and we're right back to 1977; and an Islamic Theocracy in Egypt (even a "democratically elected" one) is bad for that peace deal, which would be bad for Israel, which would be bad for us.

I don't like it; we seem to be stuck in a kind of World-According-To-Kissinger loop where we think the only thing we can do is to maintain the balance of terror.

Gotta be a better way.

Last One

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Fuck you, NSA



Today's Pix

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Cousin Magilla Sez

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...fuck you, NSA


The Cost Of Doing Nothing

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My youngest was recently recruited for a study being done at UVa's Behavioral Sciences Dept - what the hell; somebody's gotta be able to figure this joker out - anyway, while I was there yesterday signing the waivers and various other forms, pretending to be a responsible adult who's able to understand the 5 pages of disclaimers and willing to abdicate any and all rights to any and all recourse if anything goes "wrong", what I remember most about the visit was getting the feeling that we were at some cut-rate "Med School" in the Caribbean or some such.  The offices weren't dirty and dingy, but they weren't spiffy and newly painted either.  And the furniture would have to be upgraded three or four levels to qualify for the discount section at the Goodwill Thrift Store.

And I remember thinking this is another in the string of daily reminders that we're getting dragged down by what I consider our National Allergy To Paying For The Shit That Ma…

Takin' It To The Streets

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Fuck you, NSA


And a little taste of The Doobs:





Tommy Emmanuel

Out Of Chaos

That'd be lovely wouldn't it?  To wake up one day and hear something like, "Well, would you just look at that - we're all out of chaos today".  OK - sorry about that.  Let's get on with the incoherent rant.

The point is that eventually, patterns emerge from a series of chaotic events.

Weather is a chaotic thing, but over some period of time, we can identify a pattern called Climate.

An individual behaves in different ways day-to-day, but we can see a pattern develop, and we call it Personality.

etc

I've been feeling kinda frazzled the last several years, trying to keep up with all the weirdness that's been coming from "Politics", where it seems like somebody is making a concerted effort to change - fundamentally - the way we approach governing ourselves.

There's more than an ample number of specific examples so I'll skip forward here, and say straight up that the main proponents for these changes wear the "Conservative" l…

Kids Say The Darnedest Things

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Like - fuck you, NSA.


Today's Pix

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